Hello, everyone! I’m back. Right here is a bit more of a “How to WRITE a character like Anna Karenina”…but of course if you want to be like her, pay attention to #2.
Anna Karenina is considered one of the greatest books in the world, and for good reason. One thing, however, that made the book so complex was the characters’ depth. Starting with Anna herself, of course.
Authors, start taking notes 😉
Setting. A train station, the physical setting, is where we see Anna for the first and last time.
It’s a nice bit of foreshadowing.
In the physical setting is also the situational setting: her brother (who has been unfaithful) is taking his sister (who will be unfaithful) to mend his situation.
The fact that she agreed to come patch things for him might be a sign of her constant people-pleasing attitude, which tells us something about her character. So for a good introductory character setting, we writers want to, like Tolstoy, convey:
a) personality in the main character–how she agreed to come with Oblonsky)
b) foreshadowing in he physical setting—(the train station/how it would be important later)
c) foreshadowing in the situational setting—(her brother’s unfaithfulness/her future unfaithfulness)
2. Character Transformation.
One sign of a good writer is how well that writer can hide tiny things in the main character’s character which will give way to how they develop. For instance, in the beginning, Anna seems like a kind, moral, people-pleasing person, and in the end—whatever happens?
She is an uncaring, vain, selfish, and terrified of losing the one love she has—Vronsky’s—and so decides to take revenge on him.
Her transformation may be rooted in the small hints that Tolstoy hides in the beginning: her small unhappiness (with her marriage, child, ect), her apparently “good” attitude where she attempts to please as many people as possible for the affirmation she strongly desires.
(And her attitude makes us question: Is a desire for affirmation really bad? because her problem is one that so many of us can relate to.)
Writers, things to take notes on:
hide the small discontents or flaws that the character either learns to overcome or give into by the end, leading to the main development.
Make those flaws relatable and thought provoking—or even apparently “okay” or accepted among the common person. As a writer, your goal is not just to develop your characters, but also to develop your readers and thinkers.
Make the transformation or development slow and logical. Logical in the sense that it is influenced by other characters and events and the main characters’ reaction to them, just like Society shunning Anna made her react in a way that pushed her further along the path of becoming a bad person.
Who Anna is and how she became the person she ended as is a truly interesting story, and one that you can learn from in the development of your characters.
photo credit: themagnifiquecritic.com